Sleep deprivation

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Sleep deprivation is a mental state which gradually intensifies when one has been deprived of sleep for extended periods of time. This can occur naturally from lack of sleep resulting from insomnia or can be induced by extended stimulant use; it differs from stimulant psychosis in its somewhat predictable timeline of deterioration of psychical, mental, and visual abilities through predictable subjective effects.

The progression of the sleep deprivation experience can be broken down into hours gone without sleep, excluding micro-sleep sessions which may occur. A microsleep is a short period of time, from 10 to 60 seconds, in which the brain enters a sleep state, regardless of what the person is doing at the time. The affected individual often is not aware of the occurrence of the microsleep, experiencing only a brief skip forward in time.[1]. While humans are physically capable of surviving extended periods of sleep deprivation, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain awake and alert, until the person is inevitably unable to consciously resist falling asleep.

Effects of sleep deprivation

The effects of sleep deprivation intensify as one is subjected to more time without sleep. Up to the 24-48 hour mark, the cognitive effects are manageable and perceptual effects are limited to the peripheral vision and hearing of the sufferer. However, as time goes on, the effects become all consuming and can render normal life impossible.

Sleep deprivation effects are expressed differently through populations including but not limited to age, gender, and occupation[2]. Keeping this in mind, people will have different reactions to different levels of sleep deprivation.

Cognitive effects

As with all the effects of sleep deprivation, cognitive function deteriorates rapidly[3] as the sleep deprivation experience goes on. The decline of cognitive ability may be negligible during the first 1-36 hours of sleep deprivation but becomes increasingly present after this time mark has been passed. This rapid deterioration of cognitive abilities onsets at a faster pace than the physical effects of sleep deprivation.

Effects include cognitive fatigue, focus suppression, confusion, sleepiness, and memory suppression[4] and can occur as the length of time increases. During early stage sleep deprivation, some people may experience stimulation, mild euphoria, disinhibition, increased libido, and increased sense of humor,[5] although these effects quickly fade. In late stage sleep deprivation, delirium, delusions, and paranoia become increasingly present. These late stage effects can be so intense and all encompassing that they render everyday tasks impossible to complete.

Physical effects

As with other effects, the physical effects intensify as the sleep deprivation experience continues in time. What starts out as mild physical sedation eventually ends up as physical fatigue or motor control loss that can be debilitating by the end of the sleep deprivation. These late stage effects can be so intense and all encompassing that they render everyday tasks impossible to complete.

There are reports that examine the occurance of occular movement in mid to late stages of sleep deprivation[6]. While this effect is not documented in all scientific literature, the unfocusing of eyes was documented in a military experiment involving a man being kept awake for 256 hours[7].

Multi-sensory effects

Visual effects

Sleep deprivation can induce hallucinatory states that most often involve external hallucinations[8] and subjective effects such as environmental alterations, visual haze[9], and after images. These visual effects often increase proportionally to the length of time without sleep. As one continues to live without sleep, the visual hallucinations become more pronounced and may include object activation, autonomous entities and unspeakable horrors, most notably shadow people. These late stage effects can be so intense and all encompassing that they render everyday tasks impossible to complete.

Auditory effects

Auditory hallucinations can occur as sleep deprivation progresses, including but not limited to hearing voices, hearing objects move that are stationary, and hearing real life people talking to you when they have been silent. Autonomous entities seen in late stage sleep deprivation may speak to you directly or there might be disembodied voices speaking within ones head. These voices follow the same progression of the leveling effects that are seen in the autonomous entity article. Auditory distortions can also occur that make conversing with others more difficult than in a well-rested state.

Olfactory and tactile effects

In late stage sleep deprivation olfactory hallucinations and tactile hallucinations can begin to present themselves along with the more common auditory and visual effects.

Summarized effects of sleep deprivation

Brain chemistry during sleep deprivation

A main neurotransmitter which is involved in the effects of sleep deprivation is adenosine. Adenosine is released and builds up when a person is awake, and with sleep deprivation this can cause high amounts of adenosine to be released. Sleep deprivation increases activation of adenosine A1 receptors[10], which inhibit release of glutamate and acetylcholine[11], which could be involved in hallucinations and delusions caused by sleep deprivation.

During sleep deprivation, increased amounts of dopamine are released in the brain[12]. This is likely responsible for the euphoric and disinhibiting effects from early stage sleep deprivation, and may also have a role in the hallucinogenic effects of sleep deprivation.

Experiences

See also

External links

References

  1. Coren S (March 1998). "Sleep Deprivation, Psychosis and Mental Efficiency". Psychiatric Times. 15 (3) http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/login?referrer=http%3A//www.psychiatrictimes.com%2Fsleep-deprivation-psychosis-and-mental-efficiency
  2. Alhola, Paula; Päivi Polo-Kantola (October 2007). "Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance". Neuropsychiatr. Dis. Treat. 3 (5): 553–567. PMC 2656292 Freely accessible. PMID 19300585 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/
  3. Alhola, Paula; Päivi Polo-Kantola (October 2007). "Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance". Neuropsychiatr. Dis. Treat. 3 (5): 553–567. PMC 2656292 Freely accessible. PMID 19300585
  4. Alhola, Paula; Päivi Polo-Kantola (October 2007). "Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance". Neuropsychiatr. Dis. Treat. 3 (5): 553–567. PMC 2656292 Freely accessible. PMID 19300585 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/
  5. http://news.berkeley.edu/2011/03/22/pulling-an-all-nighter/
  6. "Sleep deprivation:Impact on cognitive performance" Paula Alhola1 and Päivi Polo-Kantola PMCID: PMC2656292 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/
  7. Neurological Findings After Prolonged Sleep Deprivation JOHN J. ROSS, MC Arch Neurol. 1965;12(4):399-403. doi:10.1001/archneur.1965.00460280069006 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/565718
  8. Neurological Findings After Prolonged Sleep Deprivation JOHN J. ROSS, MC Arch Neurol. 1965;12(4):399-403. doi:10.1001/archneur.1965.00460280069006 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/565718
  9. Neurological Findings After Prolonged Sleep Deprivation JOHN J. ROSS, MC Arch Neurol. 1965;12(4):399-403. doi:10.1001/archneur.1965.00460280069006 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/article-abstract/565718
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17329439
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179034/
  12. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819213033.htm